Herald/SARAH MOORE KUSCHELL - One of Killeen Independent School District’s new teachers, Mary Morris, moves desks inside her portable classroom on Tuesday at Clifton Park Elementary School to help prepare for this school year. Morris will teach fifth grade. -

By Sheena Williams

Killeen Daily Herald

Devron Miller remembers the teachers who never gave up on him. So as he reminisces about the commitment of his mentors, he prepares his own curriculum and collects supplies for the students he hopes will see him in the same light.

Miller is one of 425 new teachers in the Killeen Independent School District this year. On Tuesday, the district hosted a welcoming orientation at the Killeen Civic and Conference Center that highlighted the district's history, culture, mission and expectations.

"We want them all to be on the same page," said Dr. Jim Hawkins, the district's superintendent. "Our welcoming is also a model for what we would like our teachers to do for their students at the beginning of the school year. We want engaged students so we have to have engaged staff."

The introduction, which included a breakfast, is part of a weeklong process for the new instructors that includes separate campus orientations and classes on establishing relationships with students, classroom management and curriculum content.

Jackie Hoover, KISD's instructional leader for professional learning, said that one of the most important parts of the orientation is making the new teachers feel a part of the KISD family.

"We want them to feel very special from the moment they walk in because we care about them and that's one of the expectations we have for their approach to our students – establish relationships," Hoover said. "We try to instill in our new teachers through the introduction that one size doesn't fit all because we're all unique individuals. Our students and teachers are all unique, and their talents and motivational needs are all different and should be recognized."

Miller, a Killeen native, will teach Texas history at Live Oak Ridge Middle School. He admitted that walking into the room full of new faces "blindsided" him a bit, but he soon felt at ease because of the welcoming words from his peers and supervisors. He is brainstorming ideas that will help his new students feel more comfortable when they undergo a similar scenario on their first day of school.

"I'm going to create a brochure introducing myself and the course I'll be teaching, and then I want to do a couple ice-breaking exercises like the name game," Miller said. "I want them to feel comfortable and let them know that when they're in my class, they can be comfortable and have fun while they're learning."

Miller said that being a young teacher is going to be a double-edged sword when it comes to relating to his students. While substituting in the past at high schools, he's been asked a couple of times for his hall pass and an ID.

"I'm a young teacher, and I have young ideas about learning. One thing I want to do is establish a blog room for my students and try to integrate technology into my lesson plans," Miller said. "I have to remember though that I do look young and I probably look like a lot of my students' friends, but I have to establish that I am the authority in the room.

"So it's good to be that caring shoulder that they can lean on when they need help, but I have to separate myself and keep that balance as an instructor."

Contact Sheena Williams at sheenaw@kdhnews.com or (254) 501-7553.

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